Co-occurring disorders refer to any circumstances where an individual deals with two disorders at once, of similar or differing severity. You could be dealing with co-occurring substance use and mental or behavioral health disorders, or any combination of disorders that you’re experiencing at the same time.
Working through the challenges that a single disorder can impose on your life is hard enough; it’s oftentimes even more difficult to manage two disorders you’re experiencing at the same time, especially since you might require individual therapies or medications for each. In addition, specific treatment modalities can negatively affect one disorder over another, limiting how individuals can receive treatment for one of their disorders in light of the others.
Here’s the good news, you can do more than simply survive if you’re someone who is experiencing co-occurring disorders. With the right approach to co-occurring disorders, you can learn to manage life’s challenges, achieve the same goals and live the full life you’re hoping to live.
Here are four tips for handling your co-occurring disorder:
1. Don’t wait to seek and receive treatment.
The most difficult step in seeking help for any co-occurring disorder is simply admitting that we can’t handle everything on our own. Far too many individuals have not received the treatment they need for a single or a co-occurring disorder, simply because they haven’t admitted to a healthcare provider that they need help.
Don’t wait to receive the treatment you need for a co-occurring disorder; rather, reach out to a licensed medical professional today for help managing your co-occurring disorder. Professional counselors can help you identify triggers, minimize symptoms and pursue the life you want to live, and it all starts when you take the first step toward therapy.
2. Pursue a healthy diet and sleep pattern.
So much in our lives is affected by the food we consume and the amount of sleep we register each night. To give your body a fighting chance against co-occurring disorders, especially if you’re taking medication to limit symptoms, it’s important that you steer clear of potentially damaging ingredients. Even small amounts of artificial sugars can make a big difference, and can negatively affect how easy your co-occurring disorders are to manage.
It’s also important that you take the time to get sufficient sleep every night. With how accessible technology is in our lives, we often find ourselves surfing the internet, flipping between television channels or browsing through items on our phones, instead of heading off to bed.
We find it often helps to set parameters for your end-of-day activities, which include turning off all technology in anticipation of winding down for the evening.
3. Celebrate the victories.
Take time during your day to celebrate the small victories. Especially when you’re battling co-occurring disorders, the small victories can make all the difference. Maybe you have successfully managed to avoid substances for a certain period of time. Maybe you’ve found a new way to manage symptoms, or you’ve noticed medication begin to take effect.
No matter the good news, large or small, take time out of your day to appreciate your own resolve and don’t be afraid to celebrate in your own unique (healthy) way.
4. Understand that you’re not alone.
This step is so critically important to your long-term success while battling co-occurring disorders: understand that you’re not alone. Especially when disorders can prevent us from feeling the happiness or the fulfillment we want to feel on a daily basis, it’s easy to get discouraged or to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. We suggest that no matter what this looks like in your own life, take the time to get connected with other individuals who are experiencing many of the same struggles that you are.
If that means connecting with an online community, do it. If that means taking time to attend an in-person group therapy session, where you can share your thoughts, struggles and celebrations in a judgment-free zone, it’s important that you make the time for it.
Ultimately, anything you can do to foster community not only for you but also for anyone else who may be struggling with some of the same challenges you face, will go a long way toward making co-occurring disorders more manageable—and even inspiring—on a day-to-day basis.
Get the help you need to manage your co-occurring disorders
Learning how to manage co-occurring disorders isn’t a practice you learn overnight. Rather, you’ll slowly learn productive habits to minimize symptoms and promote healthy, happy living, often with the help of licensed medical professionals.
At Pyramid Military Therapy, we’re well familiar with treatment modalities for veterans with co-occurring disorders. Schedule your first appointment today with Pyramid Military Therapy, to discover how our program can help you fulfill the life you know you deserve to live.